Sunday, June 21, 2009

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Some clichés are true. I like those ones. Other clichés, thankfully, are not true. For example, the oft-quoted aphorism, "Respect is not given, it's earned." Not true.

But it sounds empowering, doesn't it? I mean, who wouldn't want to assume the position of control it implies on the part of the person who employs it? You can play banker with another's sincerity: John Doe deposits some effort, you let it gain some interest in your mind, and after his efforts clear the mandatory security time, you can allow John Doe a withdrawal -- a pittance of respect from the power that presides over the relationship.

It's an artful scenario, really. If you enjoy the insular security of narcissism, that is.

In reality, however -- that place where people (hopefully) think through trite platitudes -- respect is given, not earned. But how can we give respect if we're not receiving it? Legitimate question. Simplest answer? We're not playing follow-the-leader when it comes to respect. If you're willing to treat others with respect -- that is, give them respect -- that same respect will re-visit you. It's essentially a mechanical truism of the universe, and many historical, spiritual leaders have phrased it well: do as you'd be done by. Or, "do to others as you would have them do to you". Stated in negative form, "do not do to others what you would not like others to do to you."
Ethicists call this foundational rule for human interaction, "the ethic of reciprocity". Though Jesus is most often credited as the source of the statement, it is not unique to Christianity. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
But I digress.
One amelioration of the notion that respect has to be earned was offered me recently. Basically, the idea was put across that because respect is a thing to be earned, we should therefore strive to treat each other with respect.
This is far from true, and I cannot countenance such an idea, personally. Not least of why is because striving to treat each other with respect is a direct contradiction to making people earn respect. If respect cannot be given then we cannot treat each other with respect because we cannot treat each other to something we're not willing to give. And if the automatic moral assumption is that all people should be treated with respect, then that implies that all people are inherently worthy of respect. This would indicate then, that forcing others to earn from you (remember the banker?) what is naturally theirs to receive is a fundamental lack of respect for others.
Further to that, striving to do a thing is not at all the same as doing it. Striving is not attaining. In this sense, no-one should have to strive, or 'try' to give respect if they truly want to. Since respect is a recognition of the inherent dignity of yourself and others, it follows that placing your dignity in a vulnerable position with another is real respect. And that is something that can only be done; it cannot be strived for any more than a person can strive to be who they are. You either are who you are, or you're lying, or living under a lie somehow. You either meet the dignity of another person with your own personal dignity, or you don't. Striving to do so is kicking about on the fringes of actual respect, and is therefore disrespectful.
There is no sentiment that can acquit a person of the fact that respect absolutely must be given. No circumstance can alter this reality. Hanging your hat on the notion that respect has to be earned sets you in a position that no-one has the right to occupy: a dictate over others inherent dignity. What kind of respect is it to assume a place of control over another's personal dignity? It isn't. In reality, it's the ultimate form of disrespect.

25 comments:

Tag-photos said...

""Respect is not given, it's earned." Not true."

"that is, give them respect -- that same respect will re-visit you."


Could these not mean th same thing?

Or written somewhat differently.

To earn respect you have to give respect.

Makes it pretty simple thing to earn respect then don't it.

Also hard to "give" respect to somebody that is treated you disrespectfully.
In that notion than it is definitely true that you need to earn respect of another BY giving them respect.

Looking at that...

Most conversations, encounters, meetings, etc... are initiated by one individual or party. For the initiators of the encounter to EARN the respect of the other party they need to give the other party respect. By doing so that party should have earned the respect of the initiated party....

And that is true in most circumsatances in life. I have observed it everywhere. From my dealing with drunks in bars, shoplifters I have arrested in parking lots, all the way down to my kids.
I earn respect by dealing with people repectfully.

Those that initiate discussions or meetings with me earn my respect by treating me respectfully as well.
Again that is a truth observed daily.

The opposite is also seen by me on a regular basis. People that initiate an encounter disrespectfully, or do not give respect, rarely are given any respect from the initiated.

Again real life examples abound. From security guards that start fights due to the disrespectful way they initiate an encounter. To the police officer I ignored yesterday after giving a group of us an unlawful order with a stupendously stupid reason for such an order. To irate customers at customer service etc...

So I whole heartedly agree that you have to earn respect, but the best way to earn it is to give it freely.

Of course keeping respect is a whole different matter.

Christopher said...

The kink in your response, TAG, is that no matter how much you think you may be 'earning' another person's respect by being respectful, they still have the choice to give it to you or not. Hence you can give respect all you want -- which is the right thing to do -- but any respect you receive back is something that is given back to you, and not truly earned.

Tag-photos said...

I still say earned to a large degree. Since if you have not given respect in the first place it is very hard for the other person, the one treated disrespectfully, to give you respect.

Of course respecting somebody is something largely given, but I also think it can be earned grudgingly from someone. That of course would be much harder.

Anonymous said...

True, Chris. I have had the sad but eye-opening experience of giving and giving and giving respect until I finally had to look at why on Earth I was "giving respect" and getting none in return.
If we're giving and giving and giving while being tap danced on, perhaps we're giving out of our own neediness and not out of a true love for the other.
And do we really have what others need? Often not.
J

sarah said...

I am slowly losing my understanding of what is meant by the word 'respect.' I have an understanding of my own, but it doesn't seem to often line up with others express, so I'm not sure anymore what we're discussing. It is entirely possible to discuss respect with many agreements and disagreements and yet not have actually connected on its definition.

The understanding that I have precludes it even being possible to do anything but give it freely and receive it freely. Anything else is something else entirely. Required 'respect' is indenturement or oppression, and 'respect' given under such duress is not respect, but fear or dissolution of self-identity or some other abomination.

I think respect is the manifestation, through connection, of a fundamental understanding of who we are in relation to one another (this involves our Creator) and our inestimable worth. This high valuation of another presents as respect. It has to be genuine,and it is a recognition, not a title or pronouncement.

How can you do anything but freely give such a thing? How can one demand to be truly seen?

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
Perhaps there is a distinction between respect and grace. I offer grace, although I am not always gracious (sadly), but respect seems to carry with it a degree of trust which, sadly, is not always there.
We live in a broken world and their are people I do not respect because I do not trust them.
Respect, as I perceive, carries with it honour or high regard.
There are people I do not honour and I do not hold in high regard. I guess that means I do not respect them.
That doesn't mean that I have a right to treat them in an unChristlike manner.
Jesus walked away from people. He also called things what they were. That was not unloving; I believe there was always the possibility for redemption (there I go again ... sticking my neck on the chopping block).
I agree with you about offering respect freely. There is no other way; any other way would be fear, not respect.
But even if you offer respect, it does not mean you will be respected in return. And respect given, just as grace given, does not mean that it will be freely received or even freely given in return.
What a complicated web of relationships we have spun in this world.
I do believe in forgiveness, in restoration, in grace and in treating people with respect.
But I am believe that just as Jesus was wise in relating to people, that we need to be wise as well.
Does that make sense?
J

Sarah said...

I think there is a distinction between respect and grace and also between those and trust.

I personally don't need to trust someone to respect them because my respect is elemental. I don't have to trust someone even though I hold him/her in high regard.

Essentially, I respect everyone because it is impossible for me not to. I think though, that my understanding of what I'm calling respect is different than yours and in action, we might agree about everything here, but use different words and explanations.

To be clearer, respect coming from me is my recognition of God- His image- in every living thing. To not respect is to deny that reality, which I cannot do. I cannot 'un-see' what I've already seen.

Whether or not someone else sees the imago dei in me is irrelevant to my respect for him or her.

I suppose what I do with the sort of person who doesn't treat me lovingly, respectfully, who doesn't recognise the innate dignity of my being, is that I don't extend trust beyond what s/he can handle with integrity. It takes a lot of reflection and insight to determine the point at which s/he cannot any longer and sometimes it's none, and usually some unpleasant experiences come too, but it is the only way I can figure out how to cope with this sort of thing.

Respect, recognition of the innate dignity, the imago dei in everyone, is given, though, from me.

My respect may then be termed 'grace' by you or others. I would respond that grace must be extended for true respect to occur because we are not blind to the condition of others, but that the two remain distinct.

Grace must also be freely given. So must trust, I believe, but the extent of trust can be determined based on experience and careful consideration. Grace and respect do not fall into that category, and there's no necessity for denying the condition of someone to respect them, and in trust, that condition must certainly be assessed.

In any and every case, any investment of myself must be freely given rather than compelled or coerced, which would make it something taken, and not given. I cannot be compelled through coercion and then give authentically. At the core, I am either giving or having taken from me and there is no in-between. A demanded gift, if then given, is no gift at all, imo.

And a gift cannot have strings of required reciprocation; it's not a gift if it does.

I agree that wisdom in relationship is essential. I think it is wise to respect and extend grace and love unconditionally. Trust has conditions by necessity. It is unwise to unconditionally extend trust, even though it is also something that must be given freely. You cannot coerce trust from someone, and neither can love, grace nor respect be coerced.

We stand to lose nothing of intrinsic value in freely giving what we have in us- love, respect, grace. Nothing is taken or depleted in that even if we receive nothing from fellow humans in return. There is no risk in this because it is freely available and because it is freely given by God.

Respect, grace and love do not require receipt to be whole, whereas trust and forgiveness are necessarily interactive, I think. I can only give my part of trust and forgiveness, and the rest has to be freely forth-coming for the interaction and 'thing' to be complete. Love, grace and respect are stand-alones and I do not require any reciprocation or receipt for them to be whole and complete.

With trust, it is wise to assess and extend only as much as others can handle with integrity as I wrote above. By 'handle' I mean as much as they can rise up to or directly reciprocate through action.

That's my understanding. :) It may seem like a semantic argument, but even if it is, the definitions and real-experience of the distinctions I made here are pretty important to me not only intellectually, but also spiritually and otherwise. It is important to me that I live consciously, that my actions line up with my intentions and that my intentions line up with authenticity- the real 'real life', not the 'shadow lands'.

Christopher said...

Wow. Nicely stated, Sarah. I almost want to replace my article with yours; it's so much more lucid.

Thank you for posting that.

Anonymous said...

You're right Sarah. I am not talking about grace or about the worth of humanity that is simply because they are made in the image of God.
I am not talking about not recognizing those things and treating people in accordance with those things.
That should flow out of heart of love and thankfulness. I believe it does.
J

Anonymous said...

I do see grace as a gift. I don't believe that respect is a gift.
I gave grace in a relationship, but did not respect the person; nor did I receive grace or respect in return.
I still choose to give grace. Respect, for me, has more to do with a recognition of character.
I differentiate that from brotherly love and kindness.
Again, respect is high regard and honour for another. I do not hold people in high regard and i do not honour them when they abuse the trust that is given to them.
That doesn't mean that I don't forgive, that I don't freely offer grace. That may not include trust or, as you have said, it may require wisdom with how much trust you give someone.
I do trust God to guide me in these things when i cannot trust my own subjectivity -- my own humanity. And I have confidence in knowing that He knows my heart in all things and that I am accountable to Him above all others.
I also live in the reality that I have been offered grace where grace was not deserved. And the reality that he has asked me to forgive "seventy times seven" and that he has asked me to serve others and to consider others before myself.
God calls me to love in a way I could never love on my own.
I believe you can love someone, but not respect them (that is different than treating them as they should be treated).
I could give examples, but that would not be loving.
We all have people in our lives that we have lost respect for but are still called to love.
Someone once said this: "You love God as much as the person you love the least."
I'm not totally sold on that statement, but I know that God has called us to love one another, to love our neighbour -- to give preference to others (whatever that may look like).
I also know that love means nothing unless it is the kind of love that He offers.
We can say "love" and not show it. We can demonstrate love without saying it. The second is more powerful.
Respect is a bird of another feather.
As I see it where I am now.
J

Sarah said...

J, could you give an example of what you understand to be respect as manifest in relationship? What does it look and feel like?

I'm asking because without an example of what it *is*, I have only your examples of what it isn't and how it can be withdrawn by you. You wrote that it's your high regard and honour for recognition of character, but that just extends the need for definition and example because now I can use respect, honour and high regard interchangeably without knowing what you mean by those terms. If I knew what respect is to you, I could then surmise what the others must be.

I'm not trying to be difficult. I really am interested, but I don't know how useful my next comment would have been without this information.

I am also curious about your use of the word 'grace.' As I read it, it seems like a different language and I'm now not sure what you mean by it as your use of it seems to connote something different than my understanding of it- or at least a limited secondary meaning, possibly, which is then just confusing to me.

:)

Anonymous said...

I did try, but deleted it. It just seems to get into this circular dialogue that I'm not sure holds a lot of meaning.
And I'm not sure that being more specific would be helpful.
I think I will stick with this: Where there is no high regard or honour for someone, there can still be a relationship. There can still be grace offered freely. There can still be a degree of trust, but perhaps not trust in every area. There can be encouragement and prayer. There can be unconditional positive regard offered.
But without high regard and honour, there can be no depth of relationship or spiritual friendship.
I do believe that respect and trust are joined at the hip ... so close that to sever one would injure the other to the point that the relationship would never be the same.
Enter forgiveness ...
I believe in the transforming power of forgiveness. I believe in restoration. I also know that I am accountable to God for my part in both.
Does that help?
:)
J

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I could give one example that is not personal, but one that you and I could both relate to:
If someone seriously hurts a child and is capable of understanding that hurt, but yet refuses to either acknowledge it or make it right and refuses to ask that child to forgive them, is that person worthy of your respect (honour and high regard)?
I don't think so. You may trust them to take out the garbage, but you won't trust them with your child.
In this case, I would say that respect has been lost.
Now, how you treat this person is another matter because they are made in the image of God and just as frail in their humanity as you are (we are).
I don't know if any example will follow through really well, but this is one that might at least express what I am thinking.
Can there be respect again? Perhaps. Or perhaps never, depending on the person, the offence, the well-being of your child, the possibility of a repeat offence ... and on and on.
Can their be forgiveness? Definitely.
Respect?
J

Anonymous said...

Thinking a little more: another example is when Jesus crafted a whip, then entered the temple, overturning tables and, I am sure, cracking his whip on injustice.
J

sarah said...

For the example you gave, I (sadly) have many potential illustrations of what I have done, and the one that I will share is somewhat recent, after I'd figured out what I believe about much of what we are discussing here.

There is a man, guilty of abhorrent behaviour toward the child that grew into this writer. When I was called upon to help him in a time of severe crisis, I and my whole family came to his aid.

When we arrived, having not spoken with him for a few years, I wasn't sure how things would be. I had already broken through many of my own barriers in order to be capable of even being there.

This man who has never recognised his error and indeed has offered that he wouldn't do anything differently. He caused immense hurt and has not asked for forgiveness, obviously. I would not trust him to spend time with my children alone.

In spite of this, though, I do respect him. I hold him in high regard, not for his behaviour, but for his inestimable worth as a human being and that HE clearly doesn't hold himself in such high regard (if her did, he couldn't behave so hurtfully so insistently), has no bearing on my recognition of that reality.

In my respect, I am mindful of all of the things that you might term 'extending grace' as in respecting his needs and boundaries, his inabilities (and so not allowing myself to knowingly put him in a position I know he cannot handle), his abilities and insights, etc... He is frail, like me, and he also has much to offer even though he causes a lot of pain. He is still worthy of respect and high regard and honour.

I am not referring to partiality or favouritism when I use those terms.I am referring to an ontological reality. He cannot merit respect; it is due him because it is the twin sister of dignity, imo. And he has that no matter what his behaviour.

Where I depart from this is in my trust. Trust and forgiveness, as I wrote earlier are the two that I can only extend my half of and that require an extension of the other half from someone else.

I still see respect, grace, and love as unconditional, and un-merit-able.

I also wonder about the example of Jesus and the whip. I think there are times when I need to pull out the whip to clean out my temple, and I have done so many times. Far be it from me to enter someone else's and do the same though. That would be an example of utter disrespect, whereas if in cleaning my own, I end up kicking out those who defile mine, I am actually respecting them as well as me in doing so (I am not an enabler anymore). But this is becoming too esoteric...

I do not think that passage is about justice, so we may significantly differ here. :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we demonstrate grace (or respect, as you call it) by not putting on people more than they can handle -- by not interposing our own expectations on others who cannot "live up" to what we expect.
I still see a difference for respect. You and I use different words. I use "grace" and "unconditional positive regard" and "forgiveness".
I have a similarly sad example from my childhood. Because of forgiveness, I have offered grace and a relationship has been restored -- still with healthy boundaries, and never one where I would have put my own children at risk.
You can offer grace and forgiveness (or respect, as you call it) and still be wise.
I definitely agree that grace is un-merit-able.
I don't believe Jesus respected all people. I do believe he respected them as far as offering salvation and grace to all, and also as far as offering free will to all.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
J

sarah said...

J, now I am being difficult, lol.

I wanted to clarify that I do not at all believe forgiveness, grace, unconditional high regard and honour and every other term we've used here to be synonymous. I would not call what you termed grace 'respect.' I do think there are definite distinctions.

I had offered that we may be meaning the same things but using different words as a possible reason for the disparity between your examples and my understandings, but I don't think we actually believe the same things in all of this, so the terms are not interchangeable for me.

I am confused about your last statement that you believe that Jesus did not respect all people but that He did respect them but only to a certain extent (which is presumably a lesser extent than the respect- line we are called to draw?).

I believe that respect from God to us is an innate aspect of our relationship with Him. But I also believe that respect is a very different thing than you do.

I guess I must be a raging liberal... lol.

:)

Anonymous said...

I realize that language leaves us lacking at times, and I really couldn't say if we agree just from a conversation on the blog. This type of communication has its limitations as well.
But agreeing is not essential, anyway.
We both believe that grace is unmerited -- that much we do agree on.
I am relying on a dictionary definition of respect, which is a different word than grace.
I should not have used the word respect when I was referring to what Jesus offered. The word falls so far short of what he offers.
The BIble tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, so obviously his sacrifice did not depend on our worthiness.
I don't know what "respect-line we are called to draw".
We are called to love our neighbour, whomever that person may be. We are called to love our enemies, whatever constitutes an enemy.
We can only do these things because Christ indwells us and the fount that we pour out of is the one that is poured into us.
Humanly speaking, this kind of love is supernatural.
I can't explain it. Words fail me.
But if we are talking about respect, I have a different understanding about that than I do about grace and love.
I believe you can love someone without respecting them (Christ died for the sinner; He died because He is love and it was an act of His nature poured out for us).
All I can say is that there were people in the Bible that he loved, but he also condemned their sin.
When I hear a news story about a person who has abducted and killed a child, I know that that person was made in the image of God and that God loves them in their sin and wants a relationship with them. I cannot say that I respect them. I cannot even say that God respects them. I can say that God loves them and that He desires a relationship with them which would require repentance and forgiveness.
When Jesus called men "vipers", I don't think he was showing respect. He was speaking the truth out of love, and I believe that all of what God does has a redemptive purpose in it, even if people reject that purpose.
I guess my understanding of respect is different than yours. What I see you communicating is grace, which is unmerited favour.
I do not understand what you mean by "a raging liberal".
I can only relate God's grace because of what He has done in my life, and it is out of that that I desire to respond to humanity.
There seems to be some discrepancy about what respect means, perhaps just as there was about the meaning of "cynic".
The Canadian Oxford describes it as "differential esteem felt or shown towards a person, thing, or quality. it also says it is to "refrain from offending", but we know that Jesus was a rock/is a rock of offence to many simply because people are convicted or offended by the truth.
As with many words, though, there is a range within the meaning of the word -- just as there are a range of meanings for the word "love".
I do not respect Hitler, but I know that he was a person made in God's image, loved by God, and had worth in that regard. I also know that God created him with free will and that he could have chosen to be as good as he was evil.
I believe I strive, as you do, to treat people lovingly, recognizing that sometimes we must have boundaries within that love.
We are not God, as much as we strive to love as He does.
And I do fall short in trying to explain what I believe.
Again, thanks for your thoughts, and if you are a "raging liberal", whatever that means, you are a fun one.
J

Anonymous said...

I have been following this thread with some interest.
My thought's on respect defined as honour, esteem, homage, etc: Scripturally, it is not something that is earned or even given as a matter of choice. It seems to be, according to verses like Leviticus 19:32, Psalms 34:11-, Romans 13:7 and others, that respect is directly connected to an ascribed value not determined by the one being asked to render the respect. Since our value, whether we deserve it or not, is defined unequivocally by God's value system, then the non negotiable edict in scripture to give respect to father, mother, brother, sister, neighbour, king, etc. has its foundation in this otherworldly and unmovable definition of our worth. If I have immeasurable worth to my creator, and you are seen in the same light, regardless of a social/economic/cultural interpretation of that value, then giving respect (honour, esteem, homage) to you is not and can not be determined by me. A reasonable natural example of this is canadian currency. I can walk into any retail establishment anywhere in Canada and present Canadian currency for barter of goods. The quality and value of the goods may be something that can be questioned, but the value of the currency is not. In the same way, I believe, we may struggle with the emotions we have towards an individual, but the value of the respect placed upon them by God is not up for debate. What is ours to give and take is the degree of relationship we choose with that person. I may render respect to an abuser because God sees them as having inestimable worth, but I do not have to fully trust them, or even desire to be with them. God may love all people with an everlasting, unchanging respect to their individual value, but He still has a choice, based upon His righteousness, as to whether to share His presence with them for eternity. Scripture clearly defines this choice by God. He respected Israel's position as His people, but withheld His blessings because of their actions. Hell, in its basic sense as I understand it, is the separation of the person from the presence of the One who defines their worth. To fully be aware the pureness of this love and not be able to participate in it, would definitely be hell.
So, as I see it, respect is not defined by us and thus can not be given or withheld by us. Relationship can be withheld.
Does this make some sense?
My thoughts, with respect.
Cheers,
Wyatt

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Wyatt. I think this has brought some clarity in my confusion about grace and respect.
When grace is offered, it is offered immeasurably and it is undeserved. Respect seemed somehow quite different, but looking at in light of relationship and trust and the degree to which it is offered, helps me to understand what is meant here.
I think I was confused about it, as well. Perhaps their is a "line that is drawn, then, Sarah" where respect is concerned.
You are right about relationship that can be withheld to whatever degree. I think that is where most of the confusion came in for me.
I think it makes sense that respect is not ours to give ... except in terms of relationship.
I am amazed that a word like "respect" would create such confusion in my mind. Perhaps because I think of it in terms of relationship: I respect someone because of their honesty, but when I find out that they are not honest, I lose that respect for them (but, looking at it in light of what you have shared, what is lost is really relationship to whatever degree it is necessary). It follows then that it is possible to extend relationship in one area, but not in another.
I also believe that this is fluid, meaning that relationships are always changing.
I am so glad that Jesus is redemptive. I did not know if a relationship with a family member would ever be possible again, but because of forgiveness, a healthier relationship has been restored.
Anyway, thanks for bringing some light to this. I think I have a better grasp on this now.
And thanks, Sarah, for hanging in there with me on this one.
Happy Canada Day, all.
J

Anonymous said...

... Note that I said a "better grasp". The English language somehow promotes a degree of confusion because we talk about respect as if it were ours to give. "I respect you for that." "I respect your decision."
Respect seems to be one of those words that can be a noun or a verb, just as love is.
Perhaps grace makes more sense to me because I am on the receiving end of something I don't deserve; something I could never earn or repay and something given freely -- all I had to do was accept it.
One word can hold so much meaning.
J

Anonymous said...

Here's a chuckle ... talk about contradictions in terms of understanding. I was just in Staples and walked by a bulletin board sign that said, "You have to give respect to get it."
J

Christopher said...

J.,

That is quite the contradiction, hey? Haha!

Who gets to be the first person to give respect in that scenario? What if we're both distrustful and neither of us 'gives' respect? Does that mean we beat the odds of that attempt at wisdom?

I kicked wisdom's ass! Yay me!

Well, not real wisdom, mind you. Just the dreary sagacity of postmodern pop-culture and all its flighty musings.

I'm rambling.

Cheers!

sarah said...

Wyatt, thank you for your comment. It brought to light a mistake I was making in my communication. I had written that respect is given, but then that it is a recognition, which is a contradiction. I am glad you pointed out that respect cannot be given or received, but simply (though sometimes with great difficulty) recognised. This is what I believe. What a bonus that it happens to be scriptural, lol. Eek.

I really enjoyed the clarity and content of your comment.

J, the line that I referred to was the line you mentioned that you thought Jesus drew. I was concerned that we could have the place to draw a line that He didn't in His sacrifice- as if now that He's done that, we are free to draw whatever line (incidentally, of judgment) we see fit according to our own standards.

I know you wouldn't agree with that.

I think that if we pick and choose whom we will 'respect' (wherever we have allocated grace in doing so), we have simply relocated judgment and condemnation of others. I think it is wise to be discerning in how we live our lives amongst and with others, and I think that can be done with respect and grace and unconditional love, etc..., or it can be done with judgment and condemnation, and in us, where there is judgment, the rest of what I mentioned cannot exist.

I cannot both judge as condemned my neighbour and also love him unconditionally. While God is capable of such a, humanly, seeming contradiction, I am not, so I err on the side of loosey-goosey-ness. I just don't have the information He does, and that's as it should be or is, and I don't which it is either.

I am careful not relocate permission to judge. I don't give myself permission even to judge myself, so in no way do I condemn anyone else or deem actions as absolutely good or evil. I just don't have the requisite information and wisdom to do so.

I do have my perceptions- some expressed here- my disdain for mediocrity and other fun stuff, that's for sure, but judgment of another being, I cannot. I feel a pit in my stomach just thinking of it.

And then I am wary of what may not line up in my own thinking. I am not absolute on any of this, but it is my best attempt at an approximation of what is authentically ideal, excellent, true absolutely. And then maybe I have expressed the equivalent of nothing. I guess I'm open to learning and exploring all of it.

J, that's what *I'm* into these days. ;)

:) Fun and interesting discussion. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
I am not absolute on most things, but that is because we are all trying to interpret them -- bouncing them off each other and exchanging perspectives with each other, debating them -- hotly at times -- and sometimes changing perspectives, growing all the while (OK, so I don't engage in much hot debate).
I am undecided on some of this. Our society sees respect as being given or not given, and I do not see that as the same thing as someone's worth.
Regardless of what we see in someone or whether or not we withdraw relationship or give only a degree of relationship, worth remains the same.
Judgement belongs to God.
If we decide to give less relationship to someone, what is it we are communicating with that person? Would they say, "They don't want as much relationship with me?" or would they say, "Obviously, they don't think much of me anymore", which may or may not be the case because we are subjective and our perceptions are not always accurate.
What I'm saying is that if we believe we can give and take relationship, which we can, we are communicating much the same thing as "I don't respect you any longer" or "I only respect you this much". Actually, I think that that approach to people, although necessary at times, is more hurtful and harmful to community than working through things and having the relationship be stronger.
I know there are exceptions to that. There are times when relationship must be affected because for the good of one or both people, but, in as far as it is possible, that should be done in love and with communication.
I'm only saying what I believe, what my perspective is at this time, and I realize that I do not have all of the answers just as no one person does. That's why we live in community with each other. It can be dangerous being a "lone ranger".
I believe, still, that respect (and love) is both a noun and a verb. I know it is both. And a verb denotes action.
This is not to be misunderstood with the negative, which is to treat people disrespectful.
And it does not mean that someone's worth is lessoned if they are not respected by someone. You are treating with less respect by your action or inaction, but that does not take away their worth anymore than our pronouncement of judgement on someone's life could take away their eternal destiny.
Sarah, you are right in that, I believe: we do not have the power to take away someone's inestimable worth. Neither do we give it. It is a birthright.
I can only interpret respect in terms of the English language and how it is used. I have thought this over and this is what I am thinking right now.
We can say that we cannot disrespect someone, but our actions say otherwise. What we cannot say is that we have devalued someone -- that we have judged them and found them to have lesser worth or no worth (even though we may treat them that way).
Here is an example: a young man who assaults a young woman is not treating her with the respect she deserves (a noun in this case). He is not treating her respectfully (an adverb). He did not respect her (a verb). Respect describes the way someone is treated; it does not describe that person's worth.
Above all, how we treat people has a profound affect on their lives. It communicates to them that they are worth less or more to us (even though that is not true).
A child who is mistreated will not only learn to distrust, but they will also learn some things about themselves -- I am stupid. I am not lovable. I am ugly -- and even though we know that none of that is true in God's eyes, that is how it is interpreted.
I respect your interpretation of this word because each person has inestimable worth and I do not have all of the correct answers. I give that freely. I can't give worth freely.
'Round and 'round we go ...
:)
J